30 Years of Ladies Tailor

Saturday, December 3, 2016 - 20:00

Film: Ladies Tailor(1986)
Rajendra Prasad (Sundaram), Archana (Sujatha), Rallapalli (Guest), Addateegala Hanumanthu (Astrologer), Y. Vijaya ( Nagamani), Deepa (Daya), Sandhya (Neelaveni), Gauri (Sundari), Subhalekha Sudhakar (Seetaravudu), Mallikarjuna Rao (baTTala Satyam), Pradeep Shakti (Venkataratnam), Karnan (Seenu) Tanikella Bharani (Police), Dham (Jambulingam), Pattabhi, Varahala Rao (Neelaveni's father), G.N. Murthy, Varalakshmi, Jhansi Rani, Nagamani, L.V. Ranga Rao, G. Satyanarayana, P. Venkateswarlu, Dr. Subbarayudu

Screenplay: Vamsy, Tanikella Bharani, Vemuri Satyanarayana
Dialogues: Tanikella Bharani
Lyrics: sirivennela Seetharama Shastry
Playback: S.P. Balasubrahmanyam, S.P. Sailaja, S. Janaki, Nagoor Babu (not credited)
Art: Thota Associates, Thota Yadu
Editing: G.R. Anil Malnad
Camera: Hari Anumolu
Music: Ilayaraja
Production Designer: Vemuri Satyanarayana
Production Management: TammuDu Satyam
Producer: K. Sarada Devi
Banner: Sravanthi Movies
Story, Direction: Vamsy
Release Date: Dec 4, 1986
Technical: Color; Reels: 14 Runtime: 130 minutes

Song Singers Featuring
vETaaanDadE oLLOkocchi! Nagoor Babu, Chorus Rajendra Prasad
ekkaDa yekkaDa SP Balasubramaniam, Sailaja Rajendra Prasad, Gauri, etc.
gOpiilOlaa, nee paala.. SP. Balasubramaniam, S. Janaki Rajendra Prasad, Y. Vijaya, Sandhya, Deepa etc.
haayamma, haayammaa, haayammaa! SPB Rajendra Prasad
porapaaTidi, taDabaaTidi! gunjiLLu teeseyyanaa! SP. Balasubrahmanyam, S. Janaki Rajendra Prasad, Archana;


Lazy tailor Sundaram, who believes astrology a lot, is told that his fate changes if he marries a girl with a mole on the right thigh. His profession of being a ladies tailor seems like a nice ploy to identify such a woman among those that knew him well enough in the village. He tries to find if the woman would be one of the three women that grow close to him - Nagamani, Daya, or Neelaveni - but it's none of them. The local goon Venkataratnam's assistant Seenu is awaiting his boss's release from the prison, and keeps a watchful eye on Sundaram, as his antics seem to be close to sexual harrassment, which Venkataratnam detests. While innocent Sundaram falls in love with the newly arrived Sujatha teacher, Venkataratnam's mentally retarded sister Sundari, who is also close to Sundaram, gets pregnant. How Sundaram clears himself off Seenu's suspicions and convinces Sujatha to get married forms the rest of the story that starts off as a comedy flick and slowly turns into a suspsense thriller without losing the comedy flavour.

Vamsy goes down the memory lane...

Archana came to audition for the film Sitaara but Bhanupriya was chosen for the role. I saw her later in the Malayalam film Yaatra (later remade in Telugu as Nireekshana) where Balu Mahendra showed her beautifully and I thought she'd suit perfectly to the role. Dubbing Janaki's sister Lakshmi dubbed for her in the film. ...I knew Deepa before I made the film and we chose her when she was slimmer (than what she appears in the film). We saw that she grew a bit heavy by the time of the shoot but we had to go ahead with her still for the role of Daya. ...Sandhya came to our office along with some production manager who recommended her for the role saying she hails from Guntur and has appreciable diction.

Before acting in our project, she acted in a film by veteran director C.S. Rao gaaru but that film never saw the light of the day. Pattabhi who acted as her father was a stage artiste. When I liked the eyes of a perfume-seller Karnan who went about cine production offices, I offered him the role of Seenu. He initially said that he doesn't know acting but I made him do the role. For Tanikella Bharani's role, our original choice was Nutan Prasad gaaru but he had a clash of dates in the last minute and he could not come to the shooting. We then got the dresses altered for Bharani, as they were originally stitched for Nutan Prasad, and got him to do the role. ...Pradeep Shakthi was a colleague of cameraman Hari Anumolu when working with Ashok Kumar (cameraman and director of films like Mouna Geetham). I saw him acting in a miniscule role in some Malayalam film and liked him. When Hari Anumolu introduced him to me as his friend, I took him for the film Aalaapana. Though that film was a flop, I liked his acting and cast him in most of my films including Ladies Tailor. Rallapalli was originally supposed to play just an astrologer, but it was Bharani who changed the role to a tribal chief (kOya dora). We asked Rallapalli, who was in Madras, to get photographs taken with who's who of the film industry in the tribal getup; his dialogue "...pakkana nEnu" became very famous.

Thanks to the magic of Bharani, his guest role got a lot of attention! ...Most part of the movie was done in and around Rajolu, Thatipaka, and Manepalli of West Godavari district. While Rajendra Prasad's house was in Manepalli, Y. Vijaya's house was in the interior of another village. When we finished the shoot, we realized that it was of shorter duration than we hoped and shot additional scenes at Arunchala Studio in Madras. These shots include the ones with cameraman Dham, the dreaming of King, and so on. Tailors of our childhood times used to wear pajamahs and shirts that were stitched together from the cut pieces from other tailored clothing. That's what we showed in the movie 25 years ago, but now things have changed drastically; they are more fashionable than most city-dwellers today. Ilayaraja was very busy at that time and we were so hard-pressed for time that we could not halt shooting until he finished composing. Thus, I went ahead and shot the song "ekkaDa yekkaDa..." keeping in mind his way of music composing, and he composed the song based on the visuals.

I also wanted a bit song depicting the protagonist's character as the titles appeared. Ilayaraja composed the song and asked Nagoor Babu, who was working with him back then, to sing the bit. He thus sang for the film but his name doesn't appear in the titles.

Executive Producer Vemuri Satyanarayana outlines his experiences:

I knew Vamsy for long, as we worked together for the film Manchu Pallaki earlier. When Ravikishore, tammuDu Satyam and Saibaba approached him to make a film, he asked me to help with the production as they were just stepping into the film industry. The association with Ravikishore and others continues to this day, and thus our acquaintance is also now celebrating a silver jubilee along with the film! I met sirivennela (Seetharama Shastry gaaru) also for the first time when working for this film, and I gave him the schedule to finish the songs. We eventually became so close that I call him "alluDu" and he calls me "maamayya" now.

Producer 'Sravanthi' Ravikishore shares details about his debut:

I knew tammuDu Satyam and Saibaba from the time I used to work at Oriental Insurance. We used to play carroms in the evenings. Once Saibaba introduced his friend and film writer Thota Sainath at a time our ideas to make a film were shaping. Through Sainath, we went to Vamsy after he had a successful debut in the form of Sitaara and expressed our interest. A project shaped among us and we prepared a story for Kamal Hasan, under the tentative title Soundaryalahari. Everything was going well, but Kamal asked us to first make our debut with another movie before we went to sets with Soundaryalahari. We thus planned another story about a tailor's kid running away from home with just a lantern ...a typical rags to riches story. At that time, Vamsy started working for Aalaapana, and we used to go to the sets to generally learn how he directs a film and so on ...as a chance for us to gain some experience too. We met Tanikella Bharani there, and Bharani told us the story of Ladies Tailor while Vamsy was busy with filming Aalaapana. Soon, he had penned numerous versions of dialogues ready for the film - so many versions that we could possibly make four or five more movies with the same story! The film went to sets and finished shoot in 29 days.

The regulations required that a feature-length film must at least be 12,200 feet, but the total shoot yielded us about 11,100 feet or so. We thus had to shoot a day more at Arunchala Studios with some extra scenes to make up to the minimum cut-off on the film's length. The total budget of the film was on the high side in those times - 26 lakh rupees - mainly due to our inexperience in production. Vamsy was paid 2.5 lakhs as a remuneration. Rajendra Prasad, who was Vamsy's hero with Preminchu-Pellaadu and thus was a natural choice for this film too, was paid 75,000 rupees while Archana was paid 30,000 rupees.

Out of gratitude to Vamsy for delivering such a memorable debut for us, we gifted him with an air-conditioned Fiat car when the unit celebrated the film's successful 50-day run. I am ever thankful to Vamsy for also introducing me to wonderful people like Vemuri gaaru, Bharani, and sirivennela Seetharama Shastry, and so on. Not just such popular names, but one of our production executives, Nallu Ravi, and even our washerman have stayed and worked with us in all these 25 years since Ladies Tailor! None of these people have left me astray in my career's ups and downs - like they say, friends share our sorrows while relatives share our happiness! ...The film was dubbed into Tamil (by Sravanthi Movies and G.V. Films of Mani Ratnam's deceased brother G. Venkateswaran) and Kannada (by friends of our Editor Anil Malnad) but both versions turned out to be damp squibs at the box office.

Cameraman Hari Anumolu reminisces...

I had worked with Vamsy earlier for his Manchu Pallaki and knew him well. Before we went to the location, we once went to the Recording Studio at Gemini and saw a huge crane that was dumped in scrap as it was too old and didn't even have tyres to move. Otherwise, it looked really good and we wondered why it was in the dump. We enquired an old gentleman who was in charge of the equipment there, and learnt that the crane was imported from London (U.K.) and that no one had been using it for long.

Nevertheless, we asked to get it repaired for our use but he insisted that it'd be a waste of time because no one could knew how to operate it anymore! The next day, Vamsy, Ravikishore, Vemuri Satyanarayana gaaru, and I went to the Studio management and convinced them to get it repaired. It was a herculean task but they could finally get it done and sent it to Rajole in a huge truck. It was such a good crane that it hardly took a second to come down from a height of 50 feet. We used the crane to shoot nearly all the songs and climax scenes too; it was a time before Akela cranes and jimmy jibs came into the market. ...Vamsy wanted all shots from long, wide angles to closeups and we mostly used tele lens and zoom. We shot the film in mid-summer in the heat of Konaseema. The makeup dripped away with sweat constantly, and the artistes thus wore minimal wake up and had their own personal handheld fans (visanaka~r~ra). Despite such factors, they all worked hard to complete the film on schedule. ...As we shot day and night during the last four days without a break, I dozed off momentarily as the director called out "Action!" and woke up when he said "Cut!" I explained this to the director and called for a retake. However, both shots came out similarly at the end, much to my surprise! Vemuri gaaru and others joke to this day that I shoot even during my sleep (laughs)! ..

After the last day of the shoot, I left to the USA to work for America Abbaayi (Banner: Annapurna Pictures, Director: Singeetam Srinivasa Rao, Artistes: Rajasekhar, Ashwini). My wife gave birth to a baby while I was onboard the flight, and I didn't know the news until everyone congratulated me soon as I landed in the airport. This is another sweet memory I'd remember all my life.

Tanikella Bharani recollects...

My guru Rallapalli was the one who introduced me to Vamsy as a writer with Aalaapana. When Ravikishore finalized to make his debut film with Vamsy, who was very busy at that time, he gave me a story idea and asked me to develop it. When I heard it, I felt that it can be made in two ways: an out-and-out vulgar, soft-porn movie, or as a humour-orirented family subject. I chose the latter as we cannot make the former due to the kind of moral values and upbringing we all have as individuals and as a society. The story scenerio was done at a guest house in Araku in a nightlong session, but it took two months to complete the dialogue version for the film. We used 90 percent of the dialogue version in the film. ...I was on the sets all the time when the shooting was happening as I was not very busy at that time. It helped a lot in improvising scenes on the spot with the input and inutition from artistes' mannerisms and timing, and that also helped the film a lot. Vamsy prefers to exaggerate daily life situations in order to bring in a tinge of comedy, and people enjoyed it thoroughly. ...Nutan Prasad gaaru was not able to join the shoot due to some reason, and Rallapally informed Vamsy that I was also an actor. Vamsy already saw me working with the artiste on the dialogues sometimes enacting them myself while I explained. I was thus chosen to play the policeman that Nutan Prasad gaaru was supposed to. ...

During the film's preimere show, Vijayachandar and sirivennela Seetharama Shastry appreciated us a lot but we thought they were only encouraging us. I realized that people were really enjoying the film a lot, when I saw the film in Vijayawada amidst cheers from the masses among the audience. Though I worked for other films as a writer before I worked for Ladies Tailor, this film gave me a much-needed break and established me as a writer, and offers started pouring on me after this film! This film will thus have a special place in my career and life for ever.

Subhalekha Sudhakar speaks about the film:

I worked with Vamsy for Sitaara, Anveshana, and Preminchu Pellaadu before we did this film. He worked harder than me for this film, and the technicians worked without a break to complete the movie schedule. Particularly, towards the end of the schedule, they worked for four days without a break as we were shooting the climax at night and song picturization during the day. Without their hard work, we could not have finished the movie on schedule! I am very thankful to them for all the efforts! ...Mallikarjuna Rao used to get rashes due to allergy because of the ornaments but he never complained. It was the month of May and you can imagine his plight in such a peak season! The film has equal footage for Mallikarjuna Rao also; no wonder he became famous as "baTTala Satti" after doing this film...


  • This is the first film for the producer Ravikishore, TammuDu Satyam, and Saibaba (whose wife's name appears on the producer title card)
  • This is the sixth film for Vamsy as the director.
  • The film was shot in 29 days in and around Rajolu. The studio shoot in Madras accounted for one additional day of shoot.
  • The film was later remade in Marathi as Kuthe Kuthe Shodhu Me Tila, and in Hindi as Ladies Tailor. Both the versions were flops as the Telugu native tone of the film did not suit non-Telugu audiences. (As mentioned above, the dubbed versions in Tamil and Kannada flopped too.)
  • Mallikarjuna Rao was popular as "Puli Raju" earlier with Vamsy's Anveshana and is credited with that name parenthesized in the title card. With this film, he came to be known as "baTTala Satti", the name of his role in the film and was popular with that name all his life.
  • The film's publicity was designed using special cartoons by the popular cartoonist Jayadev. 

30 years since the release of the film...

  • Sravanthi Movies is actively producing films.
  • Vamsy is currently directing a sequel to Ladies Tailor, titled "Fashion Designer S/o Ladies Tailer" with Sumanth Ashwin as hero.
  • Rajendra Prasad is now busy as character artiste.

- Written by Sri Atluri & edited by Nachaki